Health cash plans can help organisations look after the wellbeing of their most precious resource, as Philip Wood explains


It’s the time of the year when organisations brace themselves for the summer exodus. As employees prepare to recharge their batteries, it’s also a good time for organisations to think about how they can reduce absence due to ill health and improve the health and wellbeing of their workforce. Health cash plans are a great place to start, as not only are they quick and easy to implement but they are also very flexible and cost effective. Most health cash plans can easily slot into existing benefits platforms, while some providers allow organisations to create a bespoke plan to suit their specific needs.

Physical health

Sickness absence due to physical health complaints such as musculoskeletal conditions can cause major disruptions. Often by the time employers are made aware of a physical health problem it requires lengthy treatment to put it right. A health cash plan is one way employers can promote good health in the workplace by encouraging staff to take steps to help prevent minor conditions becoming a serious issue.

Health Shield health cash plans can provide:

  • Cashback for sports massages and physiotherapy treatments to provide support for musculoskeletal conditions
  • Cashback for dental and optical costs to encourage regular check-ups and preventative treatments
  • A virtual GP surgery that enables employees to talk to a qualified GP any time of the day

Mental wellbeing

Recent statistics show that it is no longer just physical conditions that cause absenteeism. A recent study by the Health & Safety Executive revealed that two-fifths of organisations had experienced a rise in mental health problems and that stress accounted for 35% of all work-related ill health. Health cash plan providers like Health Shield are constantly innovating to meet the changing needs of today’s employers and many plans now include mental wellbeing benefits.

These include:

  • Cashback on massages, acupuncture and other relaxation therapies
  • 24/7 counselling helplines that can provide advice and support on issues from stress to finances
  • Access to discounted leisure activities in order to help towards a better work/life balance

Added value services

Today’s health cash plans can go beyond the basics to help HR teams proactively look after the health of their workforce. These optional services can add real value if employers need a more focused approach to absence and stress management. Options include stress prevention programmes and occupational health care plans that provide unlimited access to OH professionals. The importance of intervening at an early stage when employees report stress-related conditions cannot be underestimated. An early conversation with a mental health expert and a series of evening counselling sessions can mean the difference between someone staying in work or taking weeks off sick.

It seems the saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ still holds true. So if you are looking for a way to reduce absenteeism and improve the health and wellbeing of your workforce this summer, then why not take a closer look at health cash plans.

Absence statistics in the UK

  • The average level of employee absence has increased from 6.6 to 6.9 days per employee
  • The overall median cost of absence per employee is £554
  • Minor illness remains the most common cause of short-term absence
  • The most common causes of long-term absence are acute medical conditions, stress, musculoskeletal injuries, mental ill health and back pain
  • 9.9 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2014-15 (average of 23 days lost per case)


CIPD Absence Management Report 2015:


Work related Stress, Anxiety and Depression Statistics in Great Britain 2015 – Health & Safety Executive: